Bill Moyers Tells Tavis Smiley Television Isn't Liberal Enough

Did you know that television isn't liberal enough?

That's what Bill Moyers told PBS's Tavis Smiley Friday (video follows with transcript of commentary):

BILL MOYERS, PBS: Television, including public television, rarely gives a venue to people who have refused to buy into the ruling ideology of Washington. The ruling ideology of Washington is, “We have two parties, they do their job, they do their job pretty well. The differences between them limit the terms of the debate.” But we know that real change comes from outside the consensus. Real change comes from people making history, challenging history, dissenting, protesting, agitating, organizing. Those voices that challenge the ruling ideology - two parties, the best of all worlds do a pretty good job - those voices get constantly pushed to the, to the stage, to the areas of the stage you can’t see or hear.

Just who is offering a "stage" for such voices. Try to guess:

MOYERS: You can get, you get some voices like those on your show, you get them on Amy Goodman, on "Democracy Now," and a few other places like that, but not as a steady presence in the public discourse.

So, in Moyers' view, the perilously liberal "Democracy Now," Amy Goodman, and Tavis Smiley are offering a stage for voices that are "challenging history, dissenting, protesting, agitating, organizing." And we need more venues for such voices.

Imagine that: television isn't liberal enough. Who'd have thought it?

But there was more in this discussion between two of the most radical tax-funded media figures in the nation that was destined to raise some eyebrows:

TAVIS SMILEY, HOST: I read the charter of what public television and public radio were created to do, and I say this, and it may be politically incorrect to say on PBS, but we are not living up to that charter. We're not living up to it on public television, we’re not living up to it on public radio when it comes to a diversity and inclusion of other voices. We’re not living up to that. So I wonder whether or not in some ways we deserve being pricked a little bit, pushed a little bit if we're not living up to the charter, but you tell me.

So Smiley is concerned that PBS and NPR aren't living up to their charter because they're not offering a diversity of views. That's a concept most conservatives would agree with.

However, to someone like Moyers, diversity means - wait for it! - more liberal opinion:

MOYERS: I don't think we're living up to that charter that Lyndon Johnson proclaimed, no, I don't. The conservatives have won to this extent: too many people in public television and public radio are looking over their shoulders fearing that the Right is after them. We don't really have a Left in this country. There is no organized Left that comes after journalists the way that the Right comes after journalists who offer a different alternative. This is an old story, Tavis. Richard Nixon and Pat Buchanan, his communications director, tried to do in public broadcasting back in the early ’70s when they accused us of being liberal when in fact we were just offering an alternative view of reality – something they don’t want.

Got that?

Public television and public radio are not fulfilling their charter because they're not liberal enough.

Any questions?

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.